To celebrate National Allotment Week 2011, I’ve decided to profile some of my favourite allotment holders. Today, Jo Bratt from Essex tells us all about her plot.
Where is your allotment and how long have you rented it?
Vicarage Lane, Great Baddow Chelmsford, Essex. I have rented it for 16 months and never looked back.
What is your favourite thing about having an allotment?
My partner and I live in an apartment so it’s the outside space we craved, and being self-sufficient in veg is so rewarding.
What is your least favourite thing about having an allotment?
The old-timers always telling me I’m doing things wrong!
What is the best veg growing tip you’ve picked up and where did it come from?
I have picked up so many great ideas so one particular tip is hard to decide, but making sure I crop-rotated seems to have ensured my second year of growing crops has been as successful, if not more successful than my first.
What is your favourite fruit or veg to grow on the allotment?
I would have to say peas and broadbeans.
Got a tasty allotment recipe to share?
I love pasta primavera – it’s very simple, but so fresh, and can even be cooked on a camping stove at the allotment, al fresco style. It’s also ideal for tweaking as you can almost any veg you like.
Add a few handfuls of pasta to boiling water. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped courgette, a small bunch of chopped French beans, and a handful each of shelled peas and broad beans. Add some fresh mint to flavour halfway through.
Drain the pasta and stir through 2 tablespoons of pesto, and then add the cooked veg to the pasta. Sprinkle with grated parmesan, more mint, and pine nuts to serve.
Any leftovers are delicious cold the next day.
What one item or tool could you not do without on the plot?
My sunchair so I can sit back and admire my work, plus my hoe and fork.
What was your biggest or most embarrassing allotment hiccup?
There have been many fits of laughter down our allotment; it’s the most therapeutic escape I have ever come across.
One particular piece of advice I didn’t take was when I was warned how large a squash plant grows. I definitely didn’t leave enough room and it just took over! That was a lesson learnt and was a little embarrassing when I received a ‘told you so’.
If you had one piece of advice for an allotment beginner, what would it be?
Listen to advice but go with your own gut instinct. I had to prove myself with the old boys at my allotment, all they saw was a girl with matching pink wellies, gloves and watering can but upon winning the best-kept allotment of 2010 at our site (check out Jo’s tidy plot below) I have them asking me for tips!
Don’t be scared to experiment and anything that grows is exciting and yours to be proud of.